(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Saltwater (seatrout), flier, and crappie were the best bites reported over the holiday weekend. Expect more of the same this week, but the late week front may kick up the winds by the weekend. Last quarter moon is December 3rd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Donna at Altamaha Park said that crappie and flathead catfish were tops this week. Fishing oxbows with minnows produced most of the crappie, while live bait fished in main river cover worked for flatheads. The river level was 8.8 feet and falling (60 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.8 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on December 1st.
Satilla River – I took my son Timothy along with Ron and Nathanael Johnson to the Blackshear Bridge on Saturday, and the boys had a blast playing on sandbars. We fished a little while and only caught an 11-inch bass on an 1/8-oz. bruiser Satilla Spin, although we had quite a few other bites that did not hook up. When I launched the boat and saw the 54-degree water temperature I cringed, knowing the bite would be tough with the sharp temperature drop over the previous few days. After messing around on sandbars we decided to finish the day fishing at the swamp (see the swamp section for the report). Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts and bream have been hitting minnows, pink worms, and Satilla Spins. Buzzbaits, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits produced some bass catches. Catfish have been eating pink worms and shrimp. The river level on December 1st at the Waycross gage was 6.6 feet and falling (62 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.8 feet and falling.
St. Marys River – The best river reports came from the St.Marys this week. Some of the biggest redbreasts and bream in a while were caught this week. Crickets and worms produced them. On Sunday, the bass bite was good. One group of anglers caught 8 nice bass on plastics, and there was an unconfirmed report of a 10-pounder being caught. Crappie were eating up minnows, with the average catch about 8 fish per trip. Catfish were still being caught everywhere you dropped a shrimp, rooster liver, or pink worm. The river level at the MacClenny gage on December 1st was 2.4 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – My son Timothy and Ron and Nathanael Johnson finished off the day Saturday at the east side of the swamp. We only fished an hour and a half, but we managed to catch 58 fliers. Nathanael’s was the most impressive, measuring a gnat’s hair under 9 inches (just shy of an angler award from GA DNR). We caught all of the fish on pink or yellow sallies fished under a small balsa float. The weekend temperatures are supposed to be warm, so the flier bite should continue until the next frigid spell.
Local Ponds –Michael Winge said that Waycross area ponds were producing lots of good bream for those fishing pink worms and crickets. Minnows and jigs produced good catches of crappie again this week. Some catfish were caught with pink worms and shrimp.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Wyatt Crews and I headed to Crooked River on Tuesday and managed 36 trout and a bluefish by pitching Assassin Sea Shads suspended under Equalizer Floats. Our best colors were clear-gold flake, silver mullet, and acid rain, although we caught a fish or two on probably a dozen colors. We could not find any concentrations of fish, but we caught at least one fish everywhere but 2 stops. With water temperatures at 69 degrees, the fish have not really tightly schooled yet. We had about 2 throwbacks for every keeper. Justin Bythwood whacked 25 trout (he kept a limit) by wading and fishing from the various accesses in the Brunswick area on Friday. He caught most of his fish Carolina-rigging a live mullet, but when he ran out of bait he caught 6 more nice trout (including his biggest, an 18-incher) on a hot chicken Sea Shad fished on a Flashy Jighead. He returned Monday evening with a couple of friends and caught 6 trout and 6 bluefish on mullet and artificials. The bluefish had replaced the trout on that day. He proves that you do not have to own a boat to successfully fish our coast. You just need to put in time figuring out where the fish move and what it takes to make them bite. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers have been limiting out on sheepshead in the Brunswick area. Both live and dead shrimp produced black drum. Trout and reds have been hitting artificial grubs and live shrimp in the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that bull redfish were caught pretty much every evening and night from the pier. Cut bait produced the monsters. In the daytime, trout, sheepshead, and a few whiting were caught. Nice-sized blue crabs were still in good numbers around the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: On days when the wind allows, trout fishing is a great bet. Swamp fishing should be excellent this weekend on warm afternoons. In the swamp, flier are your best bet now that the water temperature has moderated (bowfin activity is lower than it was during the dog-days of summer). Crappie fishing is also a great option for the weekend.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)
Lake Russell (down 2.4 feet, clear, upper 50’s) – Bass fishing is slow. With the water temperature dropping the fishing has slowed. If there are a couple of warm days in a row the fishing will pick up. Fish shallow wood where you can find rocks close by as the sun warms them up. Use a ¼ or 3/8 ounce Stanley jig in the black and blue with a Zoom Salty Chunk in a green pumpkin. Fish this bait all around the wood and rocks. With a couple of warm days, use the smaller ¼ ounce Rat T Trap in the chrome and black or a Shad Rap in the middle to back of the creeks where you find schools of baitfish.
Clark Hill (down 1.7 feet, upper 50’s) – Bass fishing is slow. The water is getting cold and the bass are biting later in the day with a warm up. Stay down-lake and use worms and jigs. Fish the humps and points half way to the backs of the creeks. In the mouths of the main lake creeks use blue pumpkin Zoom mini lizards. The backs of the lower-lake creeks are clear and a use 1/2 ounce Stanley jig in black and blue Zoom pork imitation. Fish heavy bank cover and work baits dead slow all the way back to the boat. Look for any warming water in the northwest cove’s later in the afternoons. Stay on the main lake with the drop shot and spoons and use the all-white buck tails. The ledges right off the main lake are still good locations to find a schools of fish; but getting them to bite has been tough. Use a large jig with the Uncle Josh trailer and fish this bait just like a jigging spoon.
Lake Oconee (full, main lake stained, clearing on the south end), Richland Creek (clear, 56-64 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair. The middle of the creeks like Lick and Sugar have been the most productive over the past week. Cast a spinner bait along sea walls and docks in the middle of the creeks to the back of the creeks. Chartreuse has been the best color. The middle to the back of the main lake coves and large pockets have also been producing good fish on the same spinner baits. A backup to the spinner baits will be a jig fished under the docks and around wood structure in the same areas.
Striper and hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time guide service: phone 404-803-0741 or email@example.com
Striper fishing is great. The stripers are in the major coves and creeks looking for bait, and clearer water. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of bait in the creeks and drop a live bait down in to the fish. Live bait and spoons have both been producing over the past week. Fish are also being caught in the same areas on flat lines and plainer boards, in the first two hours of daylight.
Crappie fishing is good. The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves. Long lines with double jigs trolled at 1 mph has been the best producer over the past week or any jig as long as it has some chartreuse color in it.
West Point Lake (down 5.2 feet, stained, upper 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair. Small shallow pockets are luring in the bigger bass on days that the sun breaks out and warms up the water. Small jerk baits and split shot rigged worms are doing the most damage here. From mid lake south, start the morning, after the sun comes up, working the rip rap with a #5 or #7 Shad Rap in the perch or natural shad color. The bass are following the bait schools up on the rocks and are feeding on them like crazy. Look for any signs of bait on the surface near rip rap or on any rocky point. Fish a Texas rigged Zoom trick worm and also use the crank baits or Flukes to imitate a wounded baitfish.
Lake Sinclair (down 4.85 feet, high 60’s) – Bass fishing is fair. And the lake is still in draw down. Small baits fished around rocky points, concrete sea walls, and dock posts will produce on most days. A Buckeye Mop jig and a Zoom trick worm on a Spot Remover shaky head will catch fish around the docks. The docks near the warm-water discharge are good docks to try as the weather cools. Another consistent pattern is fishing deep with a spoon and a drop shot on the lower lake. Fish are starting to school up near the creek mouths relating to schools of shad. Use your Lowrance electronics to find the bait and structures these fish are holding on. Drop the spoon or drop shot down vertically through the school of fish and hold on.
Jackson Lake (down .7 feet, stained, upper 50’s) – Bass fishing is slow. The mid-morning bite seems to be the most productive. Worms and jigs are the favorites. Use the deep diving crank baits on points and deep ledges off the points. Wood will be the key here in finding fish as the colder water are forcing them to hang tight. Suspending bass are located just off main lake or river points in 15 to 20 feet of water. Another good choice will be the Zoom lizard or a trick worm rigged Carolina style with a 3/16 ounce weight. Try to match the color of the water with your bait as this seems to be the most productive way to get that bite. Any and all brush piles or stump beds that are holding fish need a good application of both the crank bait and Carolina rig.
Flat Creek PFA – The lake level is very low and the fish are more congregated then normal. The level is expected to continue to drop. Crappie are biting near the fishing pier in the early morning and late evening hours and those with boats have been catching them on a regular basis. Catfish and Bream are also biting really well right now on pinks. As the cooler temperatures of winter begin, expect the fish to move closer to shore. Those lucky enough to be fishing with a shad imitation (fluke etc.) are expected to catch many bass.
Bass: Cream colored Shad imitation lures, dark colored (June Bug, Watermelon) Zoom Trick Worms, and Zoom Centipede worms.
Bream : Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Worms on a Texas rig.
Channel Catfish: Worms fished on a Carolina rig. Chicken livers fished deep with sewing thread to keep the livers secured. Those fishing without the thread to secure the liver were making the Catfish happy and were leaving with empty stringers.
Crappie: Light, live action jigs fished with light tackle to feel the slightest bite. Jigs trolled by boat have reported to work very well!
Marben PFA – Largemouth Bass: December brings cold temperatures and shorter days. Despite our best efforts at Marben, fishing really slows down this time of year. Anglers should try crank baits or rattle traps in the 6 to 10 feet of water. Do not be afraid to try a Texas rig in the same depth. Mid-day will be the best times to target bass giving the sun a little time to warm the water just a touch. Shad are schooling in early morning, so try to mimic small shad and you will increase your success rate. Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA.
Crappie: Crappie are probably the most aggressive fish anglers will find at Marben this time year. However, do not expect to hook one with every cast. Finding them may require a little effort. Remember though, the crappie bite can turn on at any moment in these small lakes. Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 10-12 feet throughout the day. Expect crappie to move into shallower water on warmer days in December.
Bream: Bream fishing will be slow at Marben. Coldwater temperatures and shorter days all play a factor with the decrease in activity. Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best with mid-day temperatures. Remember that bream are deeper this time of year so to be successful anglers will have to target deeper water in order to increase your chances.
Catfish: Look for catfish to be extremely sluggish this time of year. Patience is necessary if anglers are in pursuit of this fish. Anglers should target days when it is sunny which should warm the water in order to get catfish moving. Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.